Rules Corner

Doctor Makes Call For Embedded Ball

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Gil Morgan had an interesting time on the par-3 17th hole today. His tee shot headed straight for the water hazard.  Dr. Morgan, convinced his ball was in the water hazard, walked over to the drop zone to drop a ball under penalty of one stroke according to the water hazard rule.  At that time, before he dropped the ball, the crowd yelled to him that his ball was not in the water hazard.  In fact, the ball was embedded in the rough outside of the water hazard.

The USGA employs a local rule that allows for relief for an embedded ball through the green.  In layman’s terms, you are allowed relief for an embedded ball anywhere on the course except in a hazard, putting green or the tee of the hole you are playing (check out the definition of “through the green”).

As Morgan walked up to get his ball, he saw that there were two balls embedded a couple inches apart. He jokingly told his walking referee Ian Gardner from the Mexican Golf Federation, “I think I have a choice!” Morgan declared he was going to take relief for the embedded ball.  He lifted the ball he felt was his and saw that it was, indeed, his ball.  Then he asked if he could remove the other ball.  The walking referee correctly told him he could since it was not a ball in play and, in fact, is now considered a movable obstruction.  When he lifted that ball, he discovered it was also a similar brand and number that he was using. Thankfully, Morgan always puts an identification mark on his ball.  He was able to accurately identify his ball as the first one he lifted.

Now Morgan was going to take relief under the embedded ball Rule.  He was not allowed to fix the holes where the balls had been under Rule 13-2.   He dropped the ball and the ball rolled towards the water hazard line to where a part of the ball was touching the line.  When any part of a ball touches the hazard line, then the ball is considered to be in the hazard.  This meant that Morgan had to re-drop in accordance with Rule 20-2.  He re-dropped and this time the ball bounced into the water hazard.  His caddie caught the ball after it crossed the hazard line and he was now able to place the ball on the spot where it first hit a part of the course on the re-drop. 

Morgan was now back in play, chipped on and made the putt for a hard earned par. – Wendy Uzelac

Standing Tall

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On the green of Sahalee Country Club’s second hole, Dave Massey of Scottsdale, Ariz., inadvertently had his caddie standing behind him while he was putting. 

Decision 14-2/4 covers this exact situation.  It states the following:

14-2/4 Caddie Inadvertently Stands on Extension of Line of Play Behind Ball

Q. A player's caddie inadvertently stood on an extension of the player's line of play behind the ball when the player made a stroke. The caddie was watching another player play from the next tee. Neither the player nor his caddie was aware that the caddie was so located. Was the player subject to penalty under Rule 14-2b?

A. No. The purpose of Rule 14-2b is to prohibit a caddie from positioning himself behind the player while the player makes a stroke in order to advise the player on alignment or otherwise assist him. In this case, the caddie was not so positioned.

The same ruling would apply if the player's caddie inadvertently stood on an extension of the line of putt behind the ball during the stroke.

Massey’s walking referee determined there was no breach, however, he did advise the caddie to be much more careful about where he stands.

Playing Wrong Ball From A Bunker

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Some mornings start out a little bit better than others.

On Thursday, Jay Norman of White Bear Lake, Minn., had a tough start getting out of the gate.  He hit a ball into the left greenside bunker on the first hole.  His fellow competitor, Mike Diffley of Pelham Manor, N.Y. did the same.  Norman’s ball was away, or so he thought.  Norman hit the ball further away from the hole, exited the bunker and marked and lifted the ball on the green.  At that point, he realized the ball he was holding was not his ball.  

Norman told his walking referee of his situation.  The referee advised the players to recreate the lie which the ball had prior to the stroke in the bunker and place the ball in that lie in the bunker.  This is in accordance with Rule 20-3b.

Diffley was then able to play his own ball from the proper location and with the lie he had prior to Norman hitting his ball. Norman played his ball, which was still in the bunker, and incurred a two-stroke penalty for hitting a wrong ball (Rule 15-3).  He ended up with a total score of 7 on the hole. 

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